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Mr. Tito's PHAT Media Reviews - Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk Ring of Honor Trilogy DVD
By Mr. Tito
Jun 27, 2013 - 3:13:35 PM
So I was reading this column by fellow LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com columnist Hustle about "Greatest Wrestling Trilogies". The column, in its entirety, was about unpopular opinions in pro wrestling and he boldly stated that Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk from Ring of Honor during 2004 was the greatest wrestling trilogy ever. This was contrary to many beliefs that either the Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat NWA/WCW 1989 series or the Wrestlemania 15/17/19 series of Steve Austin vs. Rock were the best.
This opinion intrigued me. That's a BOLD statement because Steamboat/Flair were battles that defined wrestling and Austin/Rock helped build the WWE into a raging success during the Attitude Era. HOWEVER - I could not refute this opinion because I'm not a regular Ring of Honor viewer. This year, through late October, I'll be celebrating my 15th year anniversary with LordsofPain.net. So yeah, I'm getting old... My younger self followed Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) religiously while closely watching WWE's then developmental system, Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW). That's why I can easily cite events from ECW's history and why I probably appreciate the OVW "Class of 2002" more than others (Cena, Orton, and Lesnar are still in WWE, while Batista, Benjamin, Haas are gone). My younger self had much more free time to follow non-Cable TV wrestling closely.
My older self, heading into my 15th year as Mr. Tito, has become a workaholic, has a family, and has a house to manage. Time has become a luxury that I do not have (unless I give up sleep) and has been that way since the mid-2000's. Thus, if something happened in a promotion like Ring of Honor, Old Man Tito isn't going out of his way to see it. Younger Tito would. For years, I have heard good things about CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe but just never found all 3 matches in decent form. I'm not too crazy about grainy video on YouTube or Daily Motion, either. Watching too many things in High Definition (HD) now, I've become picky in my old age. I've seen highlights and parts of their 3 matches, but never in their entirety as I should. Then I read Hustle's column and the challenge was accepted. Little did I know that Ring of Honor actually put all 3 matches on DVD and gave you a bonus disc of another Punk/Joe match from 2003 and then Punk/Joe sitting down for an extensive behind-the-scenes interview on all 3 matches. For just $19.99, the video could be yours... Buying the video works better for me for both quality desired and convenience. So I bought it...
And it was worth EVERY penny!
This video, to my knowledge, is on DVD only. Which is fine, as the matches were probably filmed in Standard Format during 2004 and you'd get vertical letterboxed on your HD television (which I cannot stand). The quality of the DVD, even when played on my 52 inch HD television, is quite impressive. The third 2004 match, in particular, is very clear and you almost think that it's a Blu-Ray presentation. The second match gets grainy in parts but I think that's due to the Chicago arena's lighting and not the filming. Overall, for it being in a DVD format, it's quite watchable on a High Definition television. Major plus to sell to wrestling fans.
The menus are extremely basic, but I won't criticize Ring of Honor for that even though the DVD was actually produced in 2012. I'm guessing that they made the menus basic to allow for more space for the video content. After all, you're getting almost 3 hours of wrestling action on Disc 1 and a super long interview plus another Punk/Joe match on Disc 2. Thus, I can forgive how basic the menu screens are. The menus are NOT what I bought this DVD for!
DVD wise, here's what you get:
-All 3 2004 Ring of Honor Matches on One Disc! The 6/12/04 Dayton match, 10/16/04 Chicago match, and the finale in New Jersey on 12/4/04. That's the trilogy of matches.
-Straight Shootin' segment, which I think might run up to 2 hours (didn't time it, just enjoyed it) where CM Punk and Samoa Joe are giving you behind the scenes details of the 3 matches but also Ring of Honor stuff at the time. Great stuff, as both guys are unscripted and out of character in describing these matches. When you watch this interview, you'll understand why CM Punk wasn't yet ready to become champion. In other words, Samoa Joe was essential Ric Flair to CM Punk being Sting ala Clash of the Champions 1 during 1988. Punk was the underdog heading into the match while Joe was the established champion. While Punk was dominated in the end, the matches elevated Punk significantly (just as the 45 minute draw elevated Sting in 1988). Punk took the champion Joe to two 60 minute draws while being overwhelmed in the 3rd match. Quite interesting to hear how Ricky Steamboat actually had some creative input on their matches. I wonder if a few mockings of Triple H by CM Punk during this talking segment may have caused him trouble once he later joined the WWE.
-BONUS MATCH: CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe from 8/16/03. Interesting match. CM Punk, in particular, is still learning the ropes while facing the more established Samoa Joe. Still, the match is a great watch (*** or slightly higher) given the experience level and would plant the seeds for their epic future matches.
As you can see, the basic menus allow for a 2 disc DVD set to be LOADED with content for hours of enjoyable wrestling stuff.
THE TRILOGY OF MATCHES - DISC 1
First up, the Dayton 6/12/04 match. In my opinion, this is the best match of the 3 and I went ***** as my rating. Most probably like the second match better, but I found the flow of this match to be better and the finish towards the 60 minute draw to be stronger. This match amazed me because it's easily the most aggressive 60 minute match that I've ever seen. Both Samoa Joe and CM Punk push the limits on endurance and crammed in more offense than what you'd see for any 60 minute Iron Man match in WWE. Their motors to keep delivering move after move, along with many near falls, and it was a thing of beauty. It's such a good match that it makes you want another 60 minutes. The fans in attendance knew it, too, as they crapped all over Homicide when he tried to run in afterward for an angle with Samoa Joe.
Second match is from 10/16/04 and it's in Chicago. Now, that's Punk's hometown, but Samoa had a lot of cheers going his way. It pains me to hear that, provided how the WWE has never made a serious offer for Joe. Joe was over! The second match is regarded by most as THE best match of the series, but I prefer #1. I personally like the flow and the ending better for match #1. Punk and Joe had more weardown moves during the first half hour of this 60 minute draw and let loose during the second half. The last 30 minutes of this match has brutal offense, particularly from Joe smashing Punk into the barrier or the nasty DDT off the side apron. Punk's neckbreaker off the top rope is impressive. Some of the most deadly offense that you'll ever see occurs during the latter half of this 60 minute draw second match. To me, it ended funny... Both were stuck on the top rope as the time ran out instead of trying more near falls on the mat or a submission as time ran out. Could it be that both Punk and Joe physically abused themselves for the last 30 minutes that they became disorganized for the finish? Either way, the second half of this match will make your jaw drop and I went ****1/2 for my match rating. I wouldn't doubt that this rating changes with multiple viewings of this match.
Finally, the third match from New Jersey 12/4/04. The match was sold as having NO time limit as a means for CM Punk to have more than 60 minutes to possibly win the match. That was the psychology heading into the match... What you got was a Samoa Joe acting in desperation and then ramping up his own intensity to put CM Punk away for good in 30 minutes. For the 30 minutes or so that you do get (I didn't clock it), it's action packed. Joe busts CM Punk open early but Punk mounts a comeback. Desperate to fend Punk off, Joe starts flirting with some heelish ways and ramps up his own intensity. Punk takes a severe beating as Joe tries to enforce his chokehold (or sleeper?). Punk fights off the choke but then Joe slams Punk HARD with the chokehold and it knocks Punk out cold. Game over. Having Ricky Steamboat ringside and actually correcting the referee on Punk's fingers moving on the third arm raise was a nice touch. I'll go **** on this match. It's an interesting swerve to think Punk would win or that the match would go beyond 60 minutes, but seems to make Joe look much stronger in the end (but that's what CM Punk said he wanted to accomplish, getting the ROH Title over). Again, it might improve with a second viewing. Hard to follow two 60 minute wars, but the match's psychology is interesting.
LAST WORD: Are you still reading this? Why haven't you bought this DVD yet from Ring of Honor. Do so by CLICKING HERE. You get one of the best wrestling trilogies of all time and 2 great bonus features in Punk/Joe's conversation afterward and a bonus 2003 match. It's a STEAL for $19.99.
Now, onto the conversation of BEST Trilogies of all time... Let me say this first... I became a full blow wrestling fan during late 1988. Thus, I followed wrestling just as Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat ignited. I'll never forget the Saturday Night NWA/WCW episode when "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert hyped a surprise tag team partner against Ric Flair/Barry Windham. Ricky Steamboat arrives and small television studio group of fans go ape. From there, I got to live the Steamboat/Flair feud as a 9 year old and it's a part of my childhood. I cannot, for the life of me, consider another "wrestling trilogy" to be finer than Steamboat/Flair from 1989. I can still watch those matches to this day and be in awe of them. I go ****1/2 for Chi-Town Rumble 1989 and then full ***** for the 2/3 Falls match at the Clash and then the finale at WrestleWar 1989. Perfectly wrestled matches for their time and complete battles with a real "sense of urgency" about them, particularly the latter 2 where Flair was desperate to get his NWA/WCW title back.
HOWEVER, I will gladly consider this the SECOND best wrestling trilogy of all time.
Many consider the Steve Austin vs. Rock trilogy of matches (Wrestlemanias 15, 17, and 19) to be the best. I disagree... The first match, Wrestlemania 15, was the perfect blowoff match for the Corporate Champion, *****. I did not like the booking of the Wrestlemania 17 and find that match to be overrated (****). Wasn't close to my "Match of the Year" honors for 2001. They seemed to repeat many of the same spots from Wrestlemania 15 and again, the finish. Wrestlemania 19 had Rock carrying Steve Austin (***), as Austin was in bad physical health the night before the event as its well documented. Maybe if you consider Backlash 1999 as the second match and Wrestlemania 17 as the third, that's a good argument... But I'll go Punk/Joe just because they weren't constrained to the booking as Austin/Rock were. Joe and Punk just flatout wrestled.
Here's a shocker... I like Triple H vs. Undertaker's Wrestlemania Trilogy better than Austin/Rock. All 3 matches brought an intensity while the latter 2 brought a unique "sense of urgency" to finally defeat Undertaker's streak. I don't care what Bret Hart thinks.
With time and more viewings, things can always change... For now, I'll go Steamboat/Flair as the best trilogy of all time and would consider Joe/Punk as a solid second with my initial viewing.
OH, and if you boldly buy this DVD, please Tweet Ring of Honor the following message: "Hey @RingofHonor - Thanks to @HustleLoP and @TitoWrestling, I bought the Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk DVD!"
So just chill til the next episode...
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